Sunday, September 26, 2010

Her FIRST of MANY tests in life: The Oxford University CDI

I felt this pang of guilt as soon as I finished tallying the numbers. Wow. I just finished scoring Kaya's first of surely millions of tests she'll be scored and ultimately judged on in her life. Did I really have to start it so early? Ouch.

I'll chock it up to that wascally analytical brain of mine that I keep mentioning. Sorry Kaya. I'm trying hard, VERY hard, not to screw you up in other ways...

In the meantime...

Last week, I read the book Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman, and was fascinated to learn a bunch of little things about language development. Naturally, I can remember none of them as I sit to write this entry...except one: in this book, they referenced a test called the Communicative Development Inventory that they use to assess, yup you got it, communicative development. I jumped on the internet as soon as possible to get my hands on a copy of this test. Unfortunately, that was much easier said than done, unless I wanted 25 copies for $120, or something ridiculous like that. Monday rolled around, and not even my sweet little voice and jedi mind tricks could persuade this company to sell or even GIVE me just one:

"Sorry," was their reply, "we only sell them to people with purple hair, seven gold teeth, and over five feet tall in stature--and to those people, we only sell 500 copies at a time for 856 dollars each. Good luck, Shorty."


So, I turned to my good friend, the internet, for some moral support. After a few searches, two to be exact, I found a CDI knock-off. Yes!! I knew one HAD to be out there! Of course, I still really want the original, and still have irons in the fire to get me one (two, actually--one in German and one in English), but in the meantime, I couldn't help but download a copy of the CDI that was created by the Oxford University Babylab. From what I've heard, that's a pretty reputable place...seems like they oughta be able to create a test, COPY a test even, nearly as good (if not better!) than the original, right? (Siting my source as requested: Hamilton, A., Plunkett, K., & Schafer, G., (2000). Infant vocabulary development assessed with a British Communicative Development Inventory: Lower scores in the UK than the USA. Journal of Child Language, 27, 689-705. )

Ok, ok, ok, Tamara, get to the good part already, wouldja?!

So, the Oxford CDI is a checklist of 416 words that are typical in children's vocabularies, and serves as a tool for assessing the development of receptive and productive vocabulary through parental report. It is typically used for children aged from about 11 to 26 months. From my understanding, they are generally testing monolingual children. I thought I might go out on a limb and test her in both languages, though I can't be sure that there's any REAL science to that...

I was VERY curious to see how she would fare, not so much in the English or German tests by themselves, since I haven't even looked at the results of other toddlers yet from their data, but particularly in the two tests that Geoff and I each scored for her in English and German, respectively (I translated their English version into German). So, here are the results of the first test that Kaya never took but will be surely judged by for the REST OF HER LIFE!:

at 20 months, 4 days
Understands 244 of 416 words
Understands and speaks 73
Understands or speaks a total of 317 of 416

at 20 months, 4 days
Understands 249 of 416
Understands and speaks 72
Understands or speaks a total of 321 of 416 words

For those of you who hate to analyze data, let me help a bit...
It seems that Kaya is TRULY BILINGUAL at this point in her life. She currently understands about 5 more words in German than she does in English, and says MAYBE one more word in English (though I am aware of a few repeat words on the German test and a few words that each of us were unsure about).

Wow. I'm SO excited. =)

So excited that I went so far as to create Google documents of the scanned tests in each language so that those of you who are as excited as I am about this stuff can actually see the words that she can speak and understand today (she must be learning at least 5-10 new words a day, while speaking at least 2-3 of them!).

Kaya's English CDI:
Page 1: CDI Overview
Page 2: Animals and Vehicles
Page 3: Food and Drink, Body Parts, and Clothes
Page 4: Furniture and Rooms, Outside and Household Items
Page 5: People, Games and Routines
Page 6: Action and Descriptive Words
Page 7: Question Words, Time, Pronouns, Prepositions
Page 8: Quantifiers and Extra Words

Kaya's CDI in German:
Page 2: Tier Gerauesche, Tiere, Autos
Page 3: Spielsachen, Essen und Trinken, Koerperteile, Kleidung
Page 4: Moebel und Zimmer, Draussen, Haushaltsgeraete
Page 5: Leute, Spiele und Routine
Page 6: Tuwoerter, Adjektive
Page 7: Fragewoerter, Zeit, Pronomen, Praepositionen
Page 8: "Quantifiers", Extrawoerter

Well, I'd really like to be able to take a look at the other data that exists on these tests, but the server over in England must be down...or, I'll simply add the link, as I was planning on doing anyway, so that all of us who are so inclined (ok, so maybe that will only be me!) can check out the data and see what it means in regards to our little Kaya. Her language is progressing so quickly now, though, that I want to 'publish' this blog entry on the same day that we completed the test for her. I'll have to get around to analyzing other data on another day, perhaps when I haven't just spent 2 hours preparing and analyzing hers.

The Oxford CDI can be found at the following link:

If you prefer the original, I found it at San Diego State University as the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventory:

I will also post these as links on the right, under Multilingual Links.

Thanks, once again, for joining us on our journey!!

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